Award winning Highland beers and ciders were sampled in London at an exclusive pop-up event last Friday (18 September) supported by Highlands and islands Enterprise (HIE).
HIE has been working closely with local breweries, creating the very first Highland Craft Beer & Cider Festival in London to celebrate Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink.
Held at Startisans, an indoor food and drink market in the heart of Covent Garden which was created to provide a platform for start-up businesses in the UK, the festival showcased a range of exciting beer and cider, some of them multi award winning, and others making their debut. Traditional Scottish food was also on offer throughout the evening.
The seven Highland companies which attended were:
Loch Ness Brewery – Based on the shores of Loch Ness. Their popular HoppyNESS bitter won gold in SIBA’s strong bitter category in 2014 with new brew mildNESS also taking gold in the mild category. They were the only Scottish brewery to pick up an award at this year’s CAMRA Great British Beer Festival.
Loch Ness Cider Company – Established in 2014, the cider is made from 100 percent pressed apple juice using a blend of Highland and UK apples whilst the company identifies the availability of more Highland apples.
Cairngorm Brewery - Situated in the village of Aviemore, Cairngorm has a host of awards under its belt, namely the title of SIBA Supreme Champion Beer of the Year for its traditional Scottish 4.4 percent abv Stout, Black Gold in 2009. More recently the same beer won CAMRA’s 2015 Champion Beer of Scotland.
Wooha Brewing Company - A new micro brewery based in Nairn. Everything the brewery does is based on science and all the beers are 100 percent natural. They don’t do filtration, there is no isinglass (making the beers vegan) and you won’t find one bubble of forced carbonation. Shortlisted for ‘Most Promising New Business’ in the 2015 Highland Business Awards.
Spey Valley Brewery - A craft-nano brewery, Spey Valley has a core range of four cask conditioned real ales with limited editions making an appearance periodically. The ales are produced around brewer David MacDonald’s full-time job making Speyside’s more famous tipple, whisky.
Keith Brewery Ltd - Formed in 2015, Keith Brewery, named after its unassuming hometown in the region of Speyside in North East Scotland, uses natural ingredients, no chemicals and pure water from its own well to bring customers great tasting and distinctive beer.
Speyside Craft Brewery – Speyside’s young MD and founder is Seb Jones, a former chemistry student who opted to follow his passion for brewing rather than the assumed oil and gas career route. Seb was included in The Grocer Magazine’s ‘Top New Talent List’ for 2013 and the brewery recently won Judges Choice Gold Award at the Grampian Food Forum Innovation Awards 2014.
Grants of Speyside provided Haggis Toasties, a twist on the traditional way of serving Haggis and the perfect accompaniment to craft beers. Connage Highland Dairy showcased its popular Connage Dunlop hard cheese and the Highland Fine Cheeses served its Strathdon Blue.
Caroline Maclellan, Development Manager at HIE, said: “As part of Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink 2015, our craft beer and cider producers from the Highlands were given an excellent opportunity when they attended this event and met potential new suppliers from around the UK. They showcased their amazing produce and we were delighted to be supporting them to do so.”
Alan Milton, Sales Manager at Wooha Brewing Company, said: “London is one of our primary target markets and the Highland Craft Beer & Cider Festival is a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase our bottle conditioned beers”.
Seb Jones, Founder & MD at Speyside Craft Brewery commented: “We have loved sharing our Speyside beer with the fine people of London. We are confident that everyone here will find at least one beer that they like”.
More than 300 people attended the event which was deemed a huge success for the Festival’s debut and plans are afoot for the Highland breweries to make a return to the English Capital in 2016.